It was an almost perfect start into the season 2006 for HEAD’ s Youngster Gael Monfils: The 19-year-old Frenchman reached the final of the Qatar Exxonmobil Open 2006 and played a great match against world’ s No. 1 Roger Federer from Switzerland in front of a packed stadium at the Khalifa International Tennis & Squash Complex which took exactly 1 hour 55 minutes.
Monfils started strongly by breaking Federer in the first game of the match, than had two more breakpoints leading 3:1 and 40:15 with Federer to serve. But with all his experiences Federer came back to win six straight games to win the first set 6:3 and lead 1:0 in the second. Monfils broke back to force a second set tiebreak where he was leading 5:3 before Federer could take the last four points of the match.
Nevertheless, Gael Monfils was happy with his first tournament of the season: “It was a great experience to play against Roger and I hope I will get another opportunity. I was playing better than in the last two finals I lost and I enjoyed myself more.”
For the future, Monfils does not want to think about reaching the Top 10 or in terms of numbers – even if he is No. 2 in the first race of champions 2006. What he wants to do is to improve his game: “I had a good week here, but I also realized that I need to work on a lot of things!”
Before starting the tournament, Monfils and Richard Gasquet celebrated the New Year by taking a fishing trip in the Doha Bay on board of a traditional Arab boat. He had arrived in Doha already on December 23rd to get some practice outdoors – and the time was invested quite well!
Monfils is using the HEAD Liquidmetal.Prestige in all his matches. The French teenager was able to win three out of four Junior Grand Slam tournaments in 2004. Only the Swedish star Stefan Edberg had ever won all four majors as a junior, back in 1983. In past years, Gael Monfils was part of the HEAD Team Elite, the international sponsorship program for promising young athletes.